Mendelssohn Hall - New York City
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Mendelssohn Hall

113-119 West 40th Street
New York, N.Y. 10018





The Mendelssohn Glee Club, organized in 1866, rehearsed in several spaces, including a studio at 108 West 55th Street, but it was many years before they would have their own concert hall. In 1891, Alfred Corning Clark, a Glee Club member and chief stockholder in the Singer Sewing Maching Company, gave a parcel of land to the club and funded construction of a concert hall, which was completed in 1893. Plans were drawn by Robert H. Robertson, then President of the Club and an architect of note. On the ground floor was eighty-by-one-hundred-foot, white and gold Empire-style concert hall seating 1,100 people. The auditorium was 40 feet from floor to ceiling and was lighted by electricity. Below were quarters for the use of members, a rehearsal hall, committee rooms, library, smoking room, and a dressing room for ladies. Above the auditorium were three floors fitted as bachelor apartments. The exterior of the building was of gray rock and oatmeal brick, in a style known as composite, with classical details. Club initials were conspicuous on the stone gables. Construction costs exceeded $225,000.

Alfred Corning Clark died in 1896 and the Club found itself facing the loss of Mendelssohn Hall, a scant four years after it had been built. There is no doubt whatsoever that Clark had erected the hall with the expectation that it would become a permanent home for the Club. Upon his death it was found that no steps had been taken by him to insure the fulfillment of his intention. His widow, who later married Bishop Potter, was in no legal position to intercede, but during her lifetime the Club was permitted to use the building in the way that Clark had intended, and to lease the rooms on the top floors as a means of bringing in revenue. Upon her death, Mendelssohn Hall was lost to the Club and it was forced to vacate.

The building was sold in 1911 to Philip Lewisohn, who then leased it to the Kinemacolor Theater, a company that planned to show motion pictures in color at "$1 for the best seats." However, that enterprise failed and the structure was torn down in 1912 to make room for a loft building.
           
  Mendelssohn Hall in New York City prepared for Memorial Service of Augustus Saint Gaudens (Feb. 29, 1908)
  Mendelssohn Hall prepared for Memorial Service of Augustus Saint Gaudens (Feb. 29, 1908)
Frank Roosevelt
New York City – Opus 523 (1892)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 41 stops, 48 ranks





The organ in Mendelssohn Hall was built in 1892 by Frank Roosevelt of New York City, and was one of that firm's last organs to be produced. Following is a descripton from The Organ (Dec. 1892):

The final shots which Roosevelt's factory will fire into the world before bowing their adieu, will be models of the perfection of electric action. The organ for the Mendelssohn Glee Club of New York will have electro-pneumatic action throughout. The console will be connected with the organ only by an inch-and-a-half cable, and will be movable. For organ concerts the console can be placed in the centre of the stage, facing the instrument. For concerts when the organ is used with chorus and orchestra, the console can be placed wherever desired, facing the conductor. For miscellaneous concerts the console can be wheeled into the ante-room, and used for a lunch-table if necessary.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Double Open Diapason
61
4
  Octave
61
8
  First Open Diapason
61
4
  Hohl Flöte
61
8
  Second Open Diapason
61
2 2/3
  Octave Quint
61
8
  Viola di Gamba
61
2
  Super Octave
61
8
  Flute Harmonique
61
    Mixture, 4 ranks
244
8
  Doppel Flute
61
8
  Trumpet
61
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon [TC]
49
4
  Flute Harmonique
61
16
  Bourdon Bass
12
2
  Flageolet
61
8
  Open Diapason
61
    Cornet, 3, 4 & 5 ranks
245?
8
  Spitz Flöte
61
16
  Contra Fagotto
61
8
  Salicional
61
8
  Cornopean
61
8
  Vox Celestis
61
8
  Oboe
61
8
  Stopped Diapason
61
8
  Vox Humana
61
4
  Octave
61
    Tremolo  
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Contra Gamba
61
4
  Fugara
61
8
  Geigen Principal
61
4
  Flute d'Amour
61
8
  Dolce
61
2
  Piccolo Harmonique
61
8
  Concert Flute
61
8
  Clarinet
61
8
  Quintadena
61
    Tremolo  
               
Pedal Organ – 30 notes
16
  Open Diapason
30
10 2/3
  Quint
30
16
  Bourdon
30
8
  Violoncello
30
16
  Violone
30
16
  Trombone
30
               
Couplers ("7 Couplers")
    Great to Pedal       Swell to Great  
    Swell to Pedal       Swell to Great Octaves  
    Choir to Pedal       Choir to Great  
            Swell to Choir  
               
Pedal Movements ("11 pedal movements")
               
           
Sources:
     "An Æolian Organ Concert," The New York Times (Jan. 22, 1896).
     Glück, Sebastian. Specifications of Frank Roosevelt Organ, Op. 523 (1892).
     "Mendelssohn Glee Club," The New York Times (Dec. 7, 1892).
     Mendelssohn Glee Club web site: http://mgcnyc.org/
     "Mendelssohn Hall To Be Torn Down," The New York Times (Mar. 14, 1912).

Illustration:
     American Architect and Building News (Sept. 19, 1891). Drawing of exterior.
     Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online. Mendelssohn Hall prepared for August Saint Gaudens Memorial Service (Feb. 29, 1908).